Washing your dog is essential in order to keep them smelling fresh and reduce the risk of unwanted pests, which will cause irritation and discomfort. However washing them too often can actually be bad for them, because just like with humans regular shampooing can dry out the scalp and remove the natural moisturising oils from the hair and skin. The frequency of the wash depends not only on the length of your dog’s hair, but also how active they are outdoors.
If you have a longhaired dog like an Afghan Hound and it has no underlying skin conditions, you should aim to wash and shampoo it about once a month using a dedicated dog shampoo. Using the right formula will make all the difference to your dog’s skin and coat, as human shampoo may cause irritation and should not be used. However if you have a dog with short hair like a Labrador then you may only need to wash it a couple of times a year, or whenever it gets dirty from playing outside.
If you find that your dog has fleas then you’ll need to choose a shampoo designed to kill them off, as water alone won’t get rid of them. A good flea shampoo should be able to kill the flea eggs as well as any adult fleas in order to stop them from continually reproducing, whilst simultaneously cleaning the hair follicles. For puppies and little dogs look for a shampoo that contains natural ingredients. Many of them contain an organic plant-based insecticide called Pyrethrins, which is perfectly safe, but may be a little too strong for smaller breeds and unsuitable for them despite its effectiveness.
When it’s time to wash your dog there are a couple of things you can do to make the whole experience a little easier on both you and your furry friend. First of all take the time to brush their coat. This will help to remove loose debris such as dirt and leaves from walks and also help to untangle matted hair, which may become harder to brush when wet. If your dog is a little excitable before a bath consider investing in a dog-grooming table. You can buy some tables that have a handy harness attached so that you can free up both hands to untangle knotted hair and calm them down, and you’ll be able to use it to groom them afterwards. Secondly install a rubber mat in the bath to stop them from falling over if they wriggle about.
If you’re a little concerned about bathing your dog after every walk then don’t worry. Sometimes a quick rub down with a towel or a wash with a little warm water will be enough to remove any dirt that has gathered on the coat. Just try to dry them off straight away so they don’t end up getting wet dog hair everywhere. As all dog owners will testify to, after a bath they just love to run about and roll around on the carpet.